Published: Sun, December 17, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Born woman tried to use bitcoin to aid IS, say prosecutors

Born woman tried to use bitcoin to aid IS, say prosecutors

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of NY charged Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and three substantive counts of money laundering.

Shahnaz bought cryptocurrency with the credit cards, converting it to US dollars and then transferring it into a bank account in her name, court filings said.

Searches of her electronic devices showed numerous searches for Islamic State-related material.

Around January 2016, Shahnaz went to Jordan as a volunteer with the Syrian American Medical Society, where for two weeks she helped provide medical aid "to Syrian refugees in Amman and in the Zataari Refugee camp, where ISIS exercises significant influence", prosecutors said in court papers.

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Her lawyer, Steve Zissou, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.

After she laundered the money to people in Pakistan, China and Turkey, federal officials say, she "planned to travel to Syria and join ISIS".

Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, a U.S. citizen, was indicted Thursday in federal court in Central Islip, New York.

According to court records, Ms Shahnaz, who lives in Brentwood on Long Island, was a lab technician at a Manhattan hospital until June.

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"The indictment reflects the resolve of this office, together with our law enforcement partners, to investigate and prosecute anyone who would seek to support terrorists, including those who would perpetrate financial crimes to do so", said Rohde, in prepared remarks. The FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force kept this woman from her unsafe and potentially deadly goal. On top of which, she allegedly tried to launder virtual currency to bolster terrorists' dwindling financial support. We will do all we can to stop the next person hoping to do the same.

Prosecutors said the 27-year-old United States citizen fraudulently applied for more than a dozen credit cards that she used to purchase $62,000 in Bitcoin, then engaged in a financial scheme that netted $150,000, which she transferred to shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey. "While there are ways of buying cryptocurrency anonymously without leaving a paper trail, it is very hard to do so in large amounts".

Shahnaz was held without bail.

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